Lectionary Calendar
Friday, June 14th, 2024
the Week of Proper 5 / Ordinary 10
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Bible Commentaries
Jeremiah 3

Smith's Bible CommentarySmith's Commentary

Verses 1-25

They say ( Jeremiah 3:1 ),

That is, in quoting the law and in speaking of the law, Deuteronomy.

If a man puts away his wife, and she goes from him, and becomes another man's wife, shall he return unto her again? shall not the land be greatly polluted? ( Jeremiah 3:1 )

Under the law if you divorce your wife and she married another man, then you could not marry her again. That was under the law of Deuteronomy, chapter 24, I think it is. Yet God said, even so,

you have played the harlot with many lovers; yet return again unto me, saith the LORD ( Jeremiah 3:1 ).

"I'll take you back." Oh, the patience of God. The love of God. It's just so amazing to me. "Though you've become a harlot and you've had many lovers, yet turn back to Me," saith the Lord. "Come on back."

Lift up your eyes unto the high places ( Jeremiah 3:2 ),

Just find a place that you haven't committed spiritual adultery.

In the ways hast thou sat for them, as the Arabian in the wilderness ( Jeremiah 3:2 );

That is, the robbers in the wilderness. You've just lurked and waited.

and thou hast polluted the land with your whoredoms and with your wickedness. Therefore [because of this] the showers [the rain] has been withheld, and there hath been no latter rain; and you had a whore's forehead, and you refused to be ashamed. Wilt thou not from this time cry unto me, My father, thou art the guide of my youth? Will he reserve his anger for ever? will he keep it to the end? Behold, thou hast spoken and done evil things as evil as you could ( Jeremiah 3:2-5 ).

Now, that is the end of the first message that the Lord gave to Jeremiah. Verse Jeremiah 3:6 starts the second message that the Lord gave to Jeremiah concerning the backsliding of Judah.

The LORD said also unto me in the days of Josiah the king ( Jeremiah 3:6 ),

He introduces his second message with that phrase.

Hast thou seen that which backsliding Israel hath done? she is gone up upon every high mountain and under every green tree, and there hath played the harlot ( Jeremiah 3:6 ).

As I said, the places of worship were established on the high mountains and then in these groves. And the worship, of course, God speaks of it as playing the harlot. And most of the worship was involved with the goddess of fertility, and thus, they were fertility rites, and the worship of the gods involved sexual intercourse in various fertility rites and all.

And I said after she has done all these things, Turn unto me. But she returned not. And her treacherous sister Judah saw it ( Jeremiah 3:7 ).

Now you've seen what happened to Israel. You saw how that they went into idolatry, how that they worshipped all of these gods. And I called them to return to me but they didn't. And you saw them, treacherous sister Judah, down here. She saw what happened to Israel, her sister Israel.

And I saw, when for all of the causes whereby backsliding Israel committed adultery, I had put her away, and given her a bill of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah did not fear, but went out and played the harlot also ( Jeremiah 3:8 ).

In other words, they should have learned from what happened to the Northern Kingdom. They should have learned the lesson when the Northern Kingdom was carried away captive by Assyria. And they should have returned to God with a whole heart and completely, but they didn't learn from it. But they themselves persisted in the same kind of actions that brought the judgment of God upon the Northern Kingdom.

And it came to pass through the lightness of her whoredom, that she defiled the land, and committed adultery with stones and with stocks ( Jeremiah 3:9 ).

That is, with the little idols made of stone and of wood.

And yet for all this her treacherous sister Judah hath not turned unto me with her whole heart, but only feignedly, saith the LORD ( Jeremiah 3:10 ).

It was only a surface revival that was going on. It wasn't really down deep affecting the heart of the nation. It was just something that was taking place on the surface. Somewhat like what is happening in the United States as churches are reporting increased attendance and Gallup poll is reporting fifty percent Christians, sixty percent born again in the United States. That's just a surface thing. It hasn't really affected the real life of the individual. There is a lack of real commitment to God and to Jesus Christ. People mouth the words. It's a popular movement. They're using born again for everything now. Shampoos or anything else, you know. It's a term that has been picked up and become popularized in the worldly jargon. But it is without meaning or significance in so many cases.

Let us examine ourselves. Is it meaningful with me? Have I really made a true commitment to God? Is my love divided? Do I love God partially? Am I committed partly? Or is there a total, full commitment of myself unto God and to Jesus Christ and the things of the Spirit? Or am I still desiring and lusting after the things of my flesh? And do I have a divided heart? Now God is calling us for a full commitment of ourselves to Him. God is calling us away from the idolatry, the things of the world, the love of the world and the things that are in the world. "Come ye apart from them and be ye separate, saith the Lord. Touch not the unclean thing. And I will be a Father unto you and you shall be my sons and daughters" ( 2 Corinthians 6:17-18 ).

So many are being enticed by the things of the world. They're being drawn and attracted by the excitement of the things of the world. But, "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. For he that hath the love of the world in his heart hath not the love of the Father" ( 1 John 2:15 ). And many of you are like treacherous Judah. Your love for God is only feigned; it is only a surface thing. It really isn't a full true commitment of your life to Him. You go through the motions. You say the words. But God is looking at your heart and He sees a heart that is divided. He sees a heart that is lusting after the world. And God knows your heart and it is breaking God's heart.

What iniquity, God said, have I done that you should turn from Me? I can remember that day when your commitment was so fervent. When you were singing praises unto Me all day long. When all you could think of was Me and you were in this beautiful harmony and communion with Me. What happened? Why is it that you've turned away and you're drawn after the things of the world? And God said, I'm calling to you. Listen. Wake up. Come back.

And the LORD said unto me, The backsliding Israel has justified herself more than treacherous Judah ( Jeremiah 3:11 ).

Now Judah is more to blame because she saw the example of Israel and what happened. And yet she did not turn.

Go and proclaim these words toward the north, and say, Return, backsliding Israel, saith the LORD; and I will not cause mine anger to fall upon you: for I am merciful, saith the LORD, and I will not keep my anger for ever. Only acknowledge your iniquity ( Jeremiah 3:12-13 ),

That's all God asks you to do. Acknowledge your iniquity. "If we confess our sins, then He is faithful and just" ( 1 John 1:9 ). But if you cover, "Oh, it's all right. I am not too bad. I still love the Lord. I still do this and that." And you're justifying yourself, then God can't do anything with you. Acknowledge your iniquity and your transgressions against the Lord thy God. Acknowledge the things that you've done.

how that you've turned to the strangers under every green tree, and ye have not obeyed my voice, saith the LORD. Turn, O backsliding children, saith the LORD; for I am married to you: and I will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion: And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding ( Jeremiah 3:13-15 ).

God gave me this passage of scripture several years ago, and He said, "This is the kind of a pastor I want you to be. This is a pastor after God's heart. The pastor who will feed the people with knowledge and understanding of God. That's the pastor after God's heart." And I said, "Lord, I want to be a pastor after Your heart. To feed the people with the knowledge and the understanding of God." And God is speaking of this day that is coming when He gives them this kind of pastors.

And it shall come to pass, when you are multiplied and increased in the land, in those days, saith the LORD, they shall say no more, The ark of the covenant of the LORD: neither shall it come to mind: neither shall they remember it; neither shall they visit it; neither shall that be done any more ( Jeremiah 3:16 ).

Talking about the glorious Kingdom Age. You won't be talking about the ark of the covenant because you'll have the new covenant--Jesus Christ dwelling with us. You'll not be thinking about the laws and the tables of stone and all that were in that ark, the covenant that God made with Israel. Whereas if you keep these laws I will be a God unto thee. That will be taken away, for Jesus said, "This blood is a new covenant in my blood which is shed for the remission of sins."

At that time they shall call Jerusalem the throne of the LORD ( Jeremiah 3:17 );

For Jesus is coming and He will reign over the earth from Jerusalem.

and all of the nations shall be gathered unto it, to the name of the LORD, to Jerusalem: neither shall they walk any more after the imaginations of their evil hearts. In those days the house of Judah shall walk with the house of Israel, and they shall come together out of the land of the north to the land that I have given for an inheritance unto your fathers. But I said, How shall I put thee among the children, and give thee a pleasant land, a goodly heritage of the hosts of nations? and I said, Thou shalt call me, My father; and shalt not turn away from me. Surely as a wife treacherously departs from her husband, so have you dealt treacherously with me, O house of Israel, saith the LORD. A voice was heard upon the high places, weeping and supplications of the children of Israel: for they have perverted their way, and they have forgotten the LORD their God. Return, ye backsliding children, and I will heal your backslidings. Behold, we come unto thee; for thou art the LORD our God ( Jeremiah 3:17-22 ).

This is the response of the people in that day.

Truly in vain is salvation hoped for from the hills ( Jeremiah 3:23 ),

That is, those that are worshipping on the tops of the mountains.

and from the multitude of mountains: truly in the LORD our God is the salvation of Israel ( Jeremiah 3:23 ).

You won't find salvation in any of the cisterns that you may have hewed out. Salvation only lies through Jesus Christ.

For shame hath devoured the labor of our fathers from our youth; their flocks and their herds, their sons and their daughters. We lie down in our shame, and in our confusion we are covered: for we have sinned against the LORD our God, we and our fathers, from our youth even unto this day, and have not obeyed the voice of the LORD our God ( Jeremiah 3:24-25 ).


Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Jeremiah 3". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/csc/jeremiah-3.html. 2014.
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